Serraniculus pumilio

Super Group: 
Ginsburg 1952


Diagnosis_Genus: Serraninae Swainson. Dorsal fin single, sometimes emarginate; branchial membrane with seven rays; jaws with strong canines; preopercule crenated; opercule with prickles.

Diagnosis_Species: Serraniculus Ginsburg. D X (10) 11. A III 7. P 14-15. Sc 44-46. GR 5-7. Dorsal rays normally 11 (in 20), infrequently 10 (in 1); dorsal and anal spines and anal rays constant (in 21). Pectoral rays 14 (in 12) or 15 (in 9). Gill rakers on lower limb 5-7 with 1-4 tubercles, or 8-11 altogether; upper limb with 0-3 gill rakers and 0-4 tubercles, or 3-5 altogether; total number of gill rakers and tubercles on both limbs of the first gill arch 11-14. Body and caudal peduncle of medium depth; upper profile rising moderately from snout to dorsal origin; peduncle deeper than eye diameter; distanee from a median point under end of dorsal to caudal base, greater than eye diameter; maxillary ending under anterior margin of pupil or slightly behind. First three dorsal spines rapidly and almost evenly graduated; the first a little less than one-half as long as second; second a little more than one-half as long as third; third to fifth subequal or slightly increasing in length, thence gradually decreasing to ninth ; tenth spine a little longer than ninth and moderately shorter than first ray, emargination between spinous and soft parts of dorsal moderate. Ventral rather short, falling short of anus, its end at a more anterior point than that of pectoral, its outer angle slightly in front of lower pectoral angle, its spine about one-half as long as rays. Distal margin of upper two-thirds of pectoral a wellinclined line, its lower angle rounded. Diffusely and irregularly cross-banded; with four diffuse, dark or dusky bands, the first under dorsal origin, the last at caudal base; anterior three bands broader than interspaces, last band comparatively narrow, preceded by broad lighter interspace over greater part of caudal peduncle; the bands without definite boundaries, the dark shade more or less encroaching and becoming diffuse on interspaces; sometimes bands and interspaces hardly distinguishable, except light interspace on peduncle ; interspaces often with a silvery tinge, the interspace between first and second bands often especially prominent as a transverse silvery band on lower two-thirds of body, under middle of spinous dorsal; a series of small dark spots on upper profile often distinguishable, 4 or 5 at dorsal base, the first at base of last spine, the fourth or fifth at end of dorsal somewhat more prominent, one at end of peduncle and one or two on upper margin of caudal near its base; a characteristic, yellowish, rounded spot directly behind last dark band, at its lower half; sometimes a similar spot, smaller and not as well marked, also at its upper half; a light streak along course of lateral line with dark very small spots placed at somewhat irregular intervals; spinous dorsal usually with a large dark blotch a little below its distal margin, between seventh and ninth spines, often hardly perceptible; anterior margin of dorsal often with three dark dots, one above the other; ventral and anal almost uniformly dark to black; other fins usually rather sparsely pigmented, without rows of well marked spots, except some irregular shadings, and caudal and lower pectoral edge broadly margined with dusky or blackish. Measurements (expressed as a percentage of the standard length) of three specimens 56-59 mm, including the holotype, and 3, 70-80 mm, those of the smaller specimens in parenthesis: caudal (25-26) 24-25, ventral (24-25) 22-23, pectoral (26-28.5) 26.5-28.5, depth (27-29.5) 29.5-31, depth of peduncle (12.5-13.5) 13-13.5, head (34.5-35) 35.5-36, maxillary (13-14.5) 14-15, snout (8.5-9.5) 9-10.5, eye (9.5-10) 8.5-9.5, interorbital (5-6) 5.5-6.5. Remarks.—The abdominal cavity of one 63-mm specimen was exposed to examine the gonads. They were found to contain ripe eggs. The structure of the gonads does not appear to be uniform in gross appearance. Interspersed with the masses of ripe roe are areas of tissue which have the gross appearance of milt. It seems probable, therefore, that this species is hermaphroditic like some other serranids. This is the smallest American serranid discovered so far. It is readily distinguished by its generic and specific characters. Its relationship is discussed above under the account of the genus.

Other description (McEachran & Fechlem, 2010): Serraniculus pumilio is spindle shaped, with head and body mottled. Anterior and posterior nares are close set, with large flap extending from posterior margin of anterior naris. Maxilla extends to near center of eye. jaw teeth are villiform and arranged in broad bands, with those in outer row enlarged in both jaws and those of inner row enlarged in lower jaw. Vomer and palatine have viliform teeth arranged in bands. Preoperculum is serrated along posterior margin and smooth along ventral margin. Branchiostegal rays number 6. Gill rakers on first arch are short and number 9 to 13. Pectoral fins have 14 oe 15 rays. Dorsal fin is slightly notched, with 10 spines and 10 or 11 rays. Anal fin has 6 or 7 rays. Posterior margin of caudal fin is slightly convex. Scales are ctenoid and extend onto head to near posterior margin or orbit. Lateral line follows dorsal contour of body but is widely separated from dorsal fin base and has 40 to 46 pored scales. Color is mottled with buff and dark brown dorsally, and is abruptly white ventrally, with poorly defined dark bars below spinous section of dorsal fin, near end of rayed section of dorsal fin, and at base of caudal peduncle. Narrow dark bar extends between eyes, and a row of brown dots is located along lateral line.

Body_adult_max: 8.5 cm (IUCN)
Body_adult_common: 6 cm (Bullock & Smith, 1991)
Body_juvenile_length: 15-20 mm SL (Hasting, 1973)
Body_sexual_maturity_female_length: 40 mm (Richards, 2009)
Body_sexual_maturity_male_length: 23 mm (Richards, 2009)
Body_larvae_flexion_length: 3.8-4.3 mm (Richards, 2009)


Serraniculus: Latin, serran, serranus, saw and a fish of genus Serranus (Fishbase).

Type species

The type species of the genus Serraniculus is Serraniculus pumilio (Ginsburg, 1952).

Type illustration / Type locality / Type specimen

Type locality: Fish hawk station 7177, off Cedar Keys, Florida, USA, lat. 29° 05' N., long. 83° 22' 30"'W
Type specimen: USNM (United States National Museum Washington DC, n°133791


Serraniculus pumilio lives in Western Atlantic: South Carolina and northern Gulf of Mexico in USA to northern South America; absent from Bahamas and West Indies (Fishbase).
Springer & Woodburn (1960) described Serraniculus pumilio as a sedentary species who prefers sandy bottom near rocks and wrecks. However, it seems that individuams apparently move about considerably (Hasting, 1973).

Habitat: coastal
Substrat: water
Salinity: marine
Oxygen_level: oxic
Depth: 10-70 m (Hasting, 1973)
Temperature: > 13°C (Hasting, 1973)
Temperature_preferred: > 30°C ( Houde, 1982)
Depth_egg: buoyant (Hasting, 1973)

Life cycle

Spawning occurs between March and August or September in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Most fish move offshore to deeper water for the winter (January and February) and individuals larger than 55 mm apparently never appear inshore (Hasting, 1973).
No sexual dimorphism.
Serraniculus pumilio lives no longer than two years, with a maximum length of 80 mm SL (Hasting & Bortone, 1980)).

Longevity: 1 to 3 years
Reproduction_mode: sexual_hermaphrodite_synchronous (oviparous)
Spawning_method: external fertilization in the water column
Fertility_period: seasonal (during spring and summer)
Migration: oceanodromous migration


Feeding behaviour


Mode of locomotion

Motility: motile_swimming


Seabasses (Pisces: Serranidae)

Bullock LH (1991) Seabasses (Pisces: Serranidae). Florida Marine Research Institute Department of Natural Resources, St Petersburg, Florida

An ecological study of the fishes of the Tampa Bay area

Springer VG (1960) An ecological study of the fishes of the Tampa Bay area. Florida State Board of Conservation Marine Laboratory, Saint Petersburg, Florida

Observation site(s)


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Association with... Region origin Name of site In reference...
Amyloodinium ocellatum Gulf Coast Research Laboratory